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A Hand to Hold
Photo: Studiomill
When I walked into the Activities Room at the Senior Center to give the Saturday afternoon chapel service, I saw a youngish man in a wheelchair positioned near the large-screen TV. As the other residents and I exchanged greetings, the young man uttered short groaning or crying sounds. I went to him and spoke to him. He made no response and gave no indication of recognizing that anyone was near him.

“Does anybody know his name?” I asked.

“No,” responded Ann. “We do know that he’s blind and maybe deaf and that he doesn’t talk to anyone.”

What could be done with no way to connect? I wondered as I set up my music player and prepared for the service. The best I could do, I thought, was to raise my voice above the gentle cries and carry on.

Thankfully, there was one in our midst who understood what could be done.

“Minnie,” daughter of an African princess and English gentry of almost 100 years ago, assessed the situation and quietly wheeled her chair beside the young man. “I will sit with him,” she told me as she placed her small hand in his. With her other hand, she gently stroked his sleeve.

Motherly Ministry

Almost immediately, his cries softened and his fingers tightened on hers. Throughout the service and until I found a nurse to take the man to his dinner, Minnie stayed at his side, her patient, motherly ministry conveying peace and love.

“He held to me so tightly,” she said afterwards. “I could tell he was afraid and that he found comfort in holding onto my hand.”

As I gently washed her hands and my own with sanitizing soap, I thought of what a gift God created when He created us with hands. From the moment of birth, hands are significant in our lives. They carry us, they comfort, they feed, guide, and discipline. We grab a child’s hand when we cross the street. They cling to ours when they’re afraid. 

I knew one family who kept a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor beside the daddy’s side of the bed so when their little daughter woke to a bad dream or a thunderstorm, she could run to her parents’ room, snuggle into the bag and reach up for daddy’s hand for her sense of safety.

I remember the reassurance after awakening from major surgery to find my mother sitting beside me, her hand touching mine. Or reaching for my husband’s hand as I came out of the fog of anesthesia following the births of our children. I remember Mom (years later), my senile-dementia-exceedingly-short-term-memory-Mom, sitting for hours lovingly holding Dad’s hand because she sensed deep inside that he was dying. 

We liken our hands in a small way to God’s “hands”: creative, caring, guiding, comforting. In fact, God often uses our hands (like Minnie’s) to do His work—“hands with skin on them,” as someone said.

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By Lois Pecce. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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